East County Sports

Cougars roar into semifinals with massive comeback

By Chris Davis
© East County Sports.com

EL CAJON (11-21-15) — Talk about deja vu.

 

One month ago, Steele Canyon traveled to Grossmont for a Grossmont Hills League contest that the Cougars came from behind with seconds remaining and walked out of the stadium with a 39-36 victory.

 

Well, on Friday (Nov. 20) it was nearly the exact same thing, only the score was different, 39-35 in the Cougars favor in a San Diego CIF Division I quarterfinal.

 

The Foothillers (7-4) jumped out to a 28-0 lead by halftime.  DOMONIQUE GUEVARA (33 yards), HUNTER MULDER (32 yards) and KHALEED DAVIS (33 yards) all scored via passes from HUNTER GAINES in the first half. JAKE HARR toted the ball in from six yards out for the other score with just 30 seconds remaining in the half.

 

At the break, Grossmont (27 plays) had outgained Steele Canyon (36 plays) 279-171.

 

“We talked at halftime,” Cougars coach SCOTT LONGERBONE said. “We talked about how football teaches life lessons. You’re going to be down in times in your life, and there are times in life where you’re going to have to just flat out battle, one play at a time. I told them that I watched a team that we had a couple of years ago get a 28-point halftime comeback.”

 

Well, in a couple of years when he has another team that is down 28 points, he can talk about the 2015 Cougar playoff game against Grossmont.

 

The Cougars (8-4) had to kick off to Grossmont.  The defense forced the Foothillers to punt after six plays.  The offense got the ball back and eight plays later Cougar quarterback THOMAS FISHBURNE (27-42, 252 yards) threw for his only touchdown to MIKEL OLIVER from 7 yards out to close the deficit to within 28-7.

 


Grossmont said, “Here let us show you how a quick strike offense works.”  Six plays later the Foothillers scored what ended up being their final points of the game with five minutes left in the third quarter.

 

Steele Canyon rattled off another scoring drive of nine plays that was capped off with a PIERRE ALEXANDER (15 carries, 90 yards, 2 touchdowns) 8-yard run to paydirt just under two minutes later.

 

After that the Foothillers’ Gaines (18-34, 292 yards, 3 TDs) threw an interception that was returned 14 yards by JAKE CITRINITTI to set up the Cougars for another score.

 

Three plays later, AMIR HARRIS from the fullback spot ran in the final two yards.  The extra point would be blocked to bring Steele Canyon within 35-20.

 

The Cougars forced a three and out that took 1:17 off the clock.

 

In the third quarter, Steele Canyon outscored the Foothillers 20-7 and outgained them 141 yards to 105.

 

The first play of the fourth quarter Alexander ran into the end zone from 9-yards out for his second touchdown for a 35-26 Foothillers lead after the extra point failed.

 

The Cougars started their drive from their own 27-yard line.  The march contained a fourth down conversion, an interception that was wiped out on offsetting penalties, a sack that was wiped out on a face mask penalty and was capped off with a Fishburne 9-yard rush for a touchdown.  At this point with five and a half minutes remaining, Grossmont was clinging to a 35-33 lead.

 

Both teams traded three and outs to give Grossmont the ball at their own 14-yard line with 3:11 left in the game.

 

Steele Canyon defense stops Grossmont during the second half Friday night.

Grossmont gained 9-yards and was facing a fourth and one with about 90 seconds remaining.

 

Steele Canyon’s Oliver (6-3, 250) came around the right side of the Grossmont line and got a hand on the Guevara punt.  Oliver would recover the ball at the Foothillers 2-yard line and carried it in the rest of the way to give the Cougars a 39-35 lead.

 

“It was just a rush, we didn’t think they were going to do a fake since they were deep in their own territory,” Oliver said. “So I went all out and blocked the punt so I could be a game changer for my team.”

 

So with the Cougars kicking off from the 25 it gave Grossmont a bit of hope that it could come back and snatch victory at the last second.  Guevara returned the kickoff 30 yards and the Cougars were generous and gave an extra 15 yards on a face mask penalty.

 

The potential game winning drive started at the Steele Canyon 33. After gaining 5-yards on the first play of the surge, the Foothillers threw a pair of incomplete passes to have a fourth and five situation. The Cougars called timeout to review what they were going to do. Grossmont lined up and ended up calling a timeout after seeing how the Cougars lined up.

 

After all the strategy had been talked over, Grossmont lined up to go for it.  Gaines dropped back, looked over the defense and saw Davis streaking up the left side of the field.  Gaines let the pass rip but it came up a bit short. Davis ended up having to play defensive back and rely on CARRINGTON TRISBY to break up the pass with 39 seconds remaining.

 

Steele Canyon forces an errant pass duing the second half. / Ramon Scott photo

Fishburne took two knees and that was the game.

 

“We brought more pressure in the second half,” Longerbone said afterwards about his defense in the final two quarters. “The D-line got up in (Gaines’) face a little more. We were very happy that (Davis) didn’t catch any more passes.

 

“We know they had very, very explosive players and we had to shut them down.  In the second half we came out with a different mindset and we were ready.”

 

With El Camino taking out Torrey Pines, Steele Canyon will travel to Oceanside for the CIF-SDS Division I semifinals on Friday (Nov. 27).

 

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